LONDON — John Barton has been named non-executive chairman at British high-street brand Ted Baker. He will take up the role in July, replacing Sharon Baylay who has been serving as acting chair.
Barton, a public company veteran, is currently chairman of Easyjet, having been appointed in 2013. He was formerly chairman of the fast-fashion retailer Next and Cable and Wireless Worldwide and was also previously senior independent director of both WH Smith plc and SSP Group.
Baylay said that following a “thorough and competitive” search process, it decided to name Barton to the role. “His significant experience in a number of leading customer-facing businesses, including very relevant experience from his time spent leading the board at Next, will be of great value as we continue the journey to transform the business.”
Barton has clocked years of experience at major companies, and he will need to press it into action at Ted Baker, which has been shaken over the past 18 months by the departure of its founder Ray Kelvin under a cloud; a revolving door of chief executives and a major inventory accounting error last year.
On top of that, he’ll be helming the board of Ted Baker as Britain — and other countries — begin to cover from the coronavirus pandemic, and manage physical store reopenings and safe shopping practices involving self-distancing.
“These are unprecedented times, and while I do not underestimate the significant challenges ahead of us, Ted Baker has strong foundations from which to build: a refreshed and committed leadership team, fronted by Rachel Osborne; dedicated and loyal colleagues; a strong brand which resonates with customers; diversified income streams, and a well-invested, omnichannel platform.”
He said he looked forward to working with the board and management “to steer the group through this period of transformation in the years ahead.”
Last month, Ted Baker promoted Osborne, who was formerly chief financial officer, to the role of ceo. Osborne is the third person in 12 months to hold the ceo role at the embattled company.
The brand has undergone a merry-go-round of changes since Kelvin quit under a cloud in March 2019 with employees accusing him of inappropriate behavior.
Kelvin has denied all of the accusations, and retains his 35 percent stake in the company. Last year, Ted Baker issued a series of profit warnings. The accounting and management troubles led David Bernstein to step down as executive chairman, while company veteran Lindsay Page abruptly resigned as ceo.